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Angkor Temples 2

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October, 2004

Preah Ko 9th Century Preah Ko Style Indravarman I
Angkor photo.
Preah Ko

This temple is called Preah Ko, the sacred bull, because the temple is flanked by three images of nandi, the sacred white bull of Shiva. The temple consists of six brick towers set inside two enclosure walls. The walls are badly deteriorated, and the towers were being rebuilt during our visit (see the photo at left).

Preah Ko was the first temple built by the Khmer Empire, when its capital was at Hariharalaya. Today this temple, and the others on this page, are known as the Roluos Group because of their proximity to the modern village of Roluos. After 70 years at Hariharalaya, the Khmer capital moved to Angkor, about 12 km away, and remained there for over 500 years.

Preah Ko was built of brick with lintels and other decorations of sandstone. The brick has become badly deteriorated over the centuries, although some of the brick walls are still intact. These walls were covered with stucco or plaster, and heavily decorated. Many of the sandstone carvings are still in beautiful condition. Even the stone landings at the bottom of each set of stairs were nicely decorated.


Bakong 9th Century •• Preah Ko Style Indravarman I
Angkor photo.

Bakong is a temple mountain surrounded by two laterite enclosure walls and a moat. The main temple is a pyramid of five levels, representing the five levels of the mythical Mount Meru. The lowest four levels correspond to the Hindu mythical beings of nagas, garudas, rakasas, and yakshas. The fifth level supports the central sanctuary; it is the level of the gods (see the photo at left). This central pyramid is surrounded by eight brick towers.

Bakong was the first of the Khmer temple mountains, and the first major temple built in stone. Although some of the carvings are still in good condition, a great deal of the temple and its surrounding buildings is now missing. This is probably a result of a combination of weathering, vandalism, and reuse of stone for other purposes. We still found it to be very impressive, even in its current state. In its prime, this temple must have made a phenominal impression on visitors, as it was intended to do.

Here are seven more photos of Bakong temple:

elephant  | stairs  | tower  | wall  | landing  | entrance  | stairs


Lolei 9th Century Preah Ko Style Yasovarman I
Angkor photo.

Lolei temple consists of 4 brick towers which were set on a small island in the middle of a baray, or reservoir. The reservoir no longer exists, and the brick towers of the temple are badly deteriorated (see the photo at left). Some of the sandstone carvings are still in good condition, though, and are worth a visit. The inscriptions on the door frames are still very legible.

The stairways that lead up to Lolei, and the other temples we visited in Cambodia, are made of sandstone blocks. The tread of each stair is narrow, and the rise is often a foot or more, so the stairways are very steep. The stones have been worn by centuries of use and have often been chipped and broken. The result is that most of the stair treads slope downwards. That and a thin layer of sand can make the stairs quite treacherous to climb, and even worse to descend. In spite of the hazard, Jamie never once fell.

Jim's injuries were minor, the bleeding was easily controlled, and he had healed completely by the time we returned to the Philippiines in mid-October.

Here are some photos of the carvings at Lolei temple:


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